B2B buying decisions are more complex than those in the B2C world. Multiple decision-makers, influencers, and sometimes detractors are involved in a B2B sales process. Buying cycles stretch for months or sometimes years, with every touchpoint and interaction along the way affecting the final purchase outcome.
The digital journey is growing rapidly within the B2B space. As reported by Digital Commerce 360, online sales on B2B ecommerce sites, log-in portals and marketplaces increased 17.8% to $1.63 trillion in 2021, compared to the previous year.
Business buyers now see digital commerce as a more efficient and effective way to research and purchase corporate goods and services. Gartner reports that B2B buyers spend only 17% of the total purchase journey with sales reps.
So it’s more critical than ever to meet and exceed customer expectations at every touchpoint. Let’s look at the top ways to improve B2B customer experience management.
Drive relevancy and value in the B2B sales experience
43% of B2B customers say they prefer not to interact with a sales rep at all, according to Gartner. Nearly half of your revenue generation pool wants to navigate the buyer journey alone. B2B buyers have become used to B2C experiences that focus on personalisation and value. The next generation of buyers are digital-natives and expect these B2C sales values as a baseline. As a result, the B2B sales pitches of decades past are no longer an effective way to sell. Your salespeople can create genuine customer connections by leading with relevant, valuable communications.
A CRM system (customer relationship management) helps your team log, track and consolidate all lead, prospect, and customer information. That data is made available to all stakeholders, who can then use the information to support and improve the B2B buyer journey. With a CRM that’s integrated with a back-end ERP system, Sales reps gain even greater insights. They know which leads and customers have interacted with marketing campaigns, prompting highly-relevant follow-ups. They can also see complete order histories and trends, knowing when it’s the right time to talk to buyers about specific product lines.
With integrated information forming a 360-degree view of leads, prospects, and customers, CRM ensures that relevant, targeted customer interactions are organised and happening at the optimal times. Ready to sell more to your B2B buyers? Start with relevant, value-driven sales interactions.
Keen to learn more about how CRM software can increase sales revenue? Get your in-depth business guide, Why CRM Software Is Vital to Your Revenue Generation Strategy.
Targeting your communications
Marketing teams significantly impact how potential customers see your company and its sales proposition. It’s the old adage of getting the right message to the right person at the right time. By segmenting your audience, personalising, and automating communications, you can take the heavy lifting out of creating highly-targeted messaging.
Think about how you categorise your lead and customer records. Do you have accurate data about their roles, company size, geography, and industry (or industry sub-vertical)? What’s important to B2B buyers can vary enormously depending on these and other classifications. B2B customer expectations are also higher than ever. They see personalised, need-specific messaging every day in their digital personal lives. And they’re now coming to demand it in their business lives.
Be everywhere your customers are – with an omnichannel solution
It’s no longer a case of publishing a price list or product catalogue and waiting for customers to order. Buyers are busy and now use various channels to get the information they need. So it’s crucial to provide value at every touchpoint with your buyers.
Are your salespeople active on social media, interacting with leads and customers to enhance their digital customer relationship management? Are they booking in-person and virtual visits that deliver additional value – such as product demonstrations, training, or business reviews?
B2B sellers are now using a range of digital sales channels, such as online portals, complete eCommerce sites, or even social selling platforms. No matter which digital channels you use, offering your customers live, up-to-date information significantly enhances their omnichannel sales experience. Consider what systems you have in the back-end to provide product, order, invoice, shipping and tracking information. A single platform like a cloud ERP solution can integrate via open API to every other digital system. That critical integration piece ensures all data seen by customers on the front-end is always live, no matter where customers connect with you in their omnichannel journey. By taking a proactive approach to helping buyers make informed purchasing decisions, you demonstrate a clear point of difference. Be the seller that buyers turn to for a faster, more effortless B2B sales experience.
The digital directive
It’s critical to have digital tools that meet modern buyer demands. B2B buyers are still B2C buyers as well. They want speed, convenience, and personalisation of the buying journey. B2B sellers are responding to evolving buyer needs, with many now setting up more user-friendly B2B eCommerce sites. Functionality like product recommendations, advanced search filters, and more, are helping bring B2C experiences to meet and exceed B2B customer expectations.
Whether you have an online portal or eCommerce site, look at whether it’s supporting the end-to-end B2B sales experience, including:
- Detailed, up-to-date product data to help buyers during the research phase
- Account-specific pricing and quantity break pricing levels
- Provision of entire order and invoice histories
- Live shipping and tracking information
- Access to a knowledge base to answer customer queries quickly and efficiently
- Contact forms and hyperlinked contact details
- Live chat facilities to help leads and customers the moment they need it
- Customer support and ticketing systems that drive excellent customer experience management in the post-purchase stage
Going the extra mile with shipping and fulfilment
Like any B2C buying journey, what happens post-purchase dramatically affects the overall B2B sales experience. The level of communication and support provided after a customer completes their purchase instantly demonstrates they’ve made a good purchase decision.
Shipping and fulfilment is another area of the post-purchase experience over which companies have great control but often fail to measure up to current demands.
Amazon’s same-day and next-day delivery services have set a whole new level of customer expectations. With supply chain issues also affecting typical stock trends over the past couple of years, B2B organisations need the ability to fulfil orders at shorter notice.
There are several ways to increase warehouse efficiency and improve fulfilment time. Automation of minimum and maximum stock levels, leveraging distributed inventory, and scenario planning are just a few that make a vast difference. Check out our article Fulfilment and Inventory Optimisation for more ideas.
Many businesses that hit a certain level of growth invest in warehouse solutions. However, it’s also worth evaluating other logistics strategies such as 3PL (third-party logistics). While some B2B companies want the highest possible control over the fulfilment process, 3PL solutions can provide rapid scalability as demand changes. They’re also continuously investing in the technology and processes to improve fulfilment.
Whichever model is the best fit for your business, fast, efficient fulfilment will get products to customers faster to meet increasingly demanding delivery needs. When buyers have confidence in receiving orders quickly, it makes their purchase decision much easier.
Integration is everything
B2B buying decisions are longer and more complex than B2C decisions. Despite this (and in some ways because of this), it’s essential to deliver B2C-like experiences at every touchpoint.
The B2B sales experience relies on knowing and anticipating buyer needs and creating relevant, valuable sales interactions.
By segmenting and personalising your communications, you can get much more targeted messaging to the right people at the right time.
An excellent omnichannel strategy will ensure you provide value across every channel your buyers use.
The right digital tools will help you meet modern customer demands of speed, convenience, and personalisation of their buying journey to support a strong customer relationship management strategy.
And timely shipping and fulfilment can create a post-purchase experience to be remembered.
Of course, all of these strategies to meet and exceed B2B buyer expectations have one thing in common – they all become much more robust when integration brings everything together.
Cloud ERP systems like NetSuite offer open API integration with any other digital system. ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is a single back-end platform that brings together all core business functions. Inventory, CRM, sales and marketing, project management, HR, and more are managed within one ERP system. Any other system can also be integrated into an ERP like NetSuite to create a single source of truth.
To learn more about ERP, get your in-depth business guide, Evaluating the Digital Transformation ROI of an ERP System.
See our brief video overview of NetSuite CRM functionality
This quick NetSuite CRM video overview details how to empower your sales team to sell more.
Why CRM Software Is Vital to Your Revenue Generation Strategy
Get your in-depth CRM business guide with detail about:
✔️ The 7 signs your business needs a CRM now.
✔️ Managing leads, pipeline, and forecasting more effectively.
✔️ How sales teams can improve the customer experience and boost revenue.
And a lot more to uncover. Download your in-depth CRM guide now.